Until recently one of the safest places to be during an American bombing attack was standing at the center of the target. Hundreds of bombers, at great risk to their crews, flew in each bombing mission during World War II in the hope that just a few of the thousands of bombs they dropped would hit the intended target. Despite efforts at calculating wind effects and release timing, most bombs fell in rather random patterns, either blowing up harmlessly or killing and wounding the innocent. In Vietnam the experience was hardly much better. This problem led to many solutions: justifications for attacking enemy civilians, the search for bigger and bigger bombs, and the quest for accuracy. The results essentially in sequence were:

1 the fire bombing of cities – doing what could be done; 2 the atomic bomb – making missing not matter by making a bigger explosion; 3 killing lots of targets accurately.